Cricket: Purser wins dream chance to face South Africa
ENGLAND seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad will be gunning for South Africa's batsmen this summer... and so is Staffordshire bowler Will Purser.
The 28-year-old paceman has won the "Shot at the Pros" competition run by Sky television's Cricket AM programme to hand club cricketers a chance to sample life on the first-class circuit.
And the former Longton skipper hopes bad luck won't hit his one-off appearance for Kent on Friday, July 13.
Standing 22 yards away will be South Africa's Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and AB De Villiers as the number two ranked Test team put the finishing touches to their preparations for their summer series against England.
Fixed fee sales package for any residential property, just £325 +vat. Includes listing on all major portals e.g. Rightmove & Zoopla, floorplans, photos, for sale board, etc. Call for more details.
Terms: All prices subject to VAT. Terms and Conditions apply. E&OE.
Contact: 01782 900100
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
The chance to bowl at some of the world's greatest players was the last thing on Bootle star Purser's mind when he entered the competition.
"Bootle were on the "Club Life" feature on Cricket AM and that was when I found out about the competition," he said.
"You had to send in a You Tube video talking about yourself and they had a look at your playing statistics.
"I did it as a bit of a joke to begin with."
Matters started to become serious, though, when Purser was one of 10 players chosen to attend the final at Loughborough's National Cricket Centre.
England batting coach Graham Thorpe, former Hampshire spinner Shaun Udal and fielding guru Chris Taylor put the hopefuls through a series of challenges across the three disciplines.
"I had six deliveries against 'Pro batter' which is a simulator screen, with the bowler running up, and in his action a ball then comes out of a bowling machine," explained Purser.
"I was set against Ben Hilfenhaus (Australia Test bowler) at 84 miles per hour, with the ball swinging away, which was tough.
"Then you faced Merlin (spin-bowling machine) for an over before facing six balls from Shaun Udal, with Graham Thorpe giving you different scenarios, like hitting a four, nudging a single or playing a sweep.
"We did some fielding drills with Chris Taylor and finished up bowling an over at targets – yorkers, bouncers and good-length deliveries.
"The coaches went away for about 15 minutes to decide who had won, and then told us on the day.
"I'm going to play for Kent and another lad is off to Middlesex. I just didn't expect to win."
Purser, who has second-team experience with Derbyshire, Essex, Lancashire and Worcestershire, heads to the Kia Oval tomorrow for one final masterclass with a bowling coach.
Then the countdown is on to his big moment when he puts his sports equipment embroidery business on the back burner for three days to play against the South Africans.
"It's a superb chance and it is all about being in the right place at the right time," said Purser.
"I'm travelling down the day before the game to meet the players and have a training session. Then it is straight into the three-dayer.
"The opportunity to bowl at the likes of Smith and Kallis is a dream scenario.
"It can go one of two ways. I'll either embarrass myself and go around the park – which I desperately hope doesn't happen – or I'll do okay.
"I'll be nervous, but we'll have to see how it goes. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"Kent are on the lookout for a bowler, so if I do well who knows what might happen?
"If I impress maybe I might get asked back."